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IS down to less than 1% of original 'caliphate': US-led coalition

IS down to less than 1% of original 'caliphate': US-led coalition

Eastern Syria -U.S-backed Syrian forces say they launched a final push to defeat isis in the only remaining pocket of territory that the extremists still hold in the country.

He said in the last 10 days SDF fighters had handled the battle "patiently" as more than 20,000 civilians were evacuated from the besieged enclave comprising two villages near the Iraqi border.

"The decisive battle began tonight to finish what remains of Daesh terrorists", Bali said, using an Arabic name for Isis.

Kurdish-led forces spearheading the offensive have paused operations but US President Donald Trump predicted Wednesday that a final declaration of victory would come next week.

A fighter from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) walks past a former ISIL jihadist alms tax center in the city of Hajin in Syria's eastern Deir Ezzor province on January 27, 2019 after the Kurdish-led and US -backed SDF retook the city from ISIL fighters.

This is a developing story.

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Major General Christopher Ghika, the coalition's deputy commander, described the size of the last IS pocket as "now less than one percent of the original caliphate".

More than 37,000 people, mostly wives and children of militants, have fled IS territory since the SDF intensified its offensive in December, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Bali did not say how long they expect the battle to last. "Those remaining inside are the most experienced who are defending their last stronghold".

The besieged ISIS enclave centred around Baghouz on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River represents the terrorist group's last territorial foothold in the part of Syria where forces supported by the U.S. have been fighting it.

Earlier this week, CBS News visited the frontline and found no sign of a slowdown, as Kurdish-led troops closed in on the last strip of ISIS territory, backed up by US and coalition airstrikes.

"Currently, ISIS is regenerating key functions and capabilities more quickly in Iraq than in Syria, but absent sustained [counterterrorism] pressure, ISIS could likely resurge in Syria within six to twelve months and regain limited territory", the report added, quoting officials with the U.S. Central Command.